Joe Queenan does a fairly good job of picking up on something few people have really noticed. The Republicans now running for President have little or no style of their own, fashion-wise, and this is especially true now that Michele Bachmann has dropped out of the race. But what Queenan misses is the fact that one of the original candidates for President, Tim Pawlenty, practically established this no-nonsense way of campaigning.
Not that it led to any great success, but still, Here's Pawlenty in July, of 2010, and he's campaigning in New Hampshire. Jeans would seem to be appropriate for a summer event, and you can see the evolution of the current outfit that Mitt Romney is now wearing. I'm not aware of anyone doing this before Pawlenty did; if so, I will gladly stand corrected.
What you see here is a candidate who actually wears jeans. The ones that Romney is wearing are store bought within the last month and don't actually fit him well. Those of you who know jeans will see that Pawlenty is wearing a pair that is broken in and faded, and he even has a telltale bit of wear on the right-hand pocket. Oh, so genuine.
Pawlenty combined the dress shirt (which was practical, since he could quickly go from a suit and tie to casual in the amount of time it takes to roll from one town to the other in a place like New Hampshire) with jeans and tried to capitalize on the fact that he was a Republican with roots in the blue collar world.
Contrast that with this (no link because Esquire is a maddeningly difficult site to navigate)
Here's Mitt Romney eleven months later, and the article mentions that he is going to forgo ties and dress down. Romney is buttoned down but he's still wearing perfectly cut slacks. What you don't see is his eventual transformation. He tries to make himself appear to be more of a common man. But, tragically, his wife has picked out skinny jeans from the Gap.
Big mistake. You go with Levis or you go home, son.
Romney, et all, are trying to keep this going. They cannot appear wealthy, well-dressed, or fancy because that would mean that they aren't genuine Americans. President Obama has to dress like the President; they have to contrast their images with him and try to make themselves appear more in touch.
The problem is, they're out of touch. And, in some small way, they're simply channeling the failed Pawlenty campaign, one ill-fitting pair of jeans at a time.